Thursday, March 31, 2011


I wanted a New York bargain.

You know. Something I couldn’t get at home.
A watch perhaps!
A New York street watch.

Jackie Gleason as "Ralph"
 I kept my eyes open for a ticking bargain. Then, one evening we decided to trek along the east side of 8th Avenue. We usually kept to the west side as we walked along towards Times Square, pausing to say hello to “Ralph Cramden” who’s likeness stood outside the transit authority station and garage. This particular time, we crossed at the corner just outside our hotel and started walking along 8th. Just opposite the hotel, I saw watches in the display window of a store I hadn’t noticed before. The prices ranged from 4 to 8 dollars.
A watch for 4 bucks?
We went inside. They had inexpensive jewellery, tee shirts, hats, souvenirs and of course-watches. Watches were piled high on a centre display in every conceivable style and shape. I shuffled the boxes on the counter and found a glitzy looking model- in gold, with an expandable band. It was pretty! Just 4 bucks. With the Canadian Dollar- only $3.76!

Then, a watch with black face, gold trim and a black leather band caught my eye. Just 6 dollars! With the exchange it was a savings of 36 cents CDN. The total of the two watches came to $10.35.
Both were quartz and made in China but then so is the gold Cardinal watch I have and it was much, much more than a mere 4 dollars!

Above the Altar
 I wanted to go back for a tee shirt the next day but I could see the store still had its corrugated protective shutter in place over the windows the following morning.
 This trip to New York afforded us much more time for sight-seeing than the last time we visited. As I mentioned in other blogs, Greenwich Village, Times Square and Central Park were wonderful places to see but a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue- just up the street from Saks was awe-inspiring. This gothic cathedral stretches for an entire city block. Once inside the huge door it immediately becomes a place of solitude and reflection. The quiet is deafening. None of the sounds of a city of a multitude of millions can be heard inside. The ceiling soars hundreds of feet into the air. Details are ornate. From the rear of the church to the Altar seemed miles away. After a security checkpoint we were left to ourselves. Altars to various saints lined the perimeter. A special “chapel” within the church celebrates and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. A painting of the Madonna and Child hangs several feet off the floor at one such altar with dozens of flower arrangements vying for her attention beneath. Just to the left, a chapel with a dozen or more rows of pews faced what appeared to be a statue. An "angelic rendering" of the Virgin Mother. A sign on the back of the last pew asks for quiet, respect and reverence.

View from the rear of the Cathedral

In front of the chapel is the main altar of St. Patrick’s with sound, lighting and video equipment handing from sturdy gothic columns and from the ceiling above. The Cathedral has large video screens throughout the Sanctuary, attached to huge columns that support the massive roof enabling all the faithful to have an unobstructed view of the altar.

One of the many knaves "St. Anthony"
 Further along- on the north side of St. Patrick’s stands a statue of St. Patrick himself as well as Joseph- Christ’s Earthly Father. Knaves with hundreds of lit candles can be found placed sporadically throughout the magnificent building. The accompanying pictures tell the true story of the ambience inside.

Many things have changed since our last time in New York- about half a decade ago. Take the famous Colony Music Store just above 49th Street. Last time CD’s and DVD’s of favourites Broadways shows and movies were in abundance. Not this time. The sheet music section of the store seemed well-stocked but bins that were formerly overflowing with movies and CD’s were sparse. It was sad. We were told that even a huge HMV store that once dominated the Times Square landscape was gone. HMV- a British company recently pulled the plug on its U.S. Stores. Now, I hear the same fate may be awaiting Canadian locations of HMV – or at least a scaling back. It seems that many of us are buying online through sites such as Amazon, Chapters or iTunes.

Marquee of the 42nd Street McDonalds

One Broadway store still remains, however. Just up the street from the St. James and Shubert Theatres-on West 44th Street, this quaint little shop remains open and well-stocked. I haven’t mentioned the name because I can’t remember. It’s Broadway something or other, a fabulous little New York shop. Phantom of the Opera is still playing almost directly across the street from the entrance. You’ll find movies, music, scripts, Broadway Tees, souvenirs and more! When we walked through the front door, the same owner was still standing there behind the counter too- as jovial and welcoming as ever. We were looking for a particular version of the movie Gypsy, the Television version starring Bette Midler. We would have taken the Rosalind Russell movie too- if he had of had it. A clerk looked for us but they were sold out of both! Oh well, there’s always online!

On the next blog I’ll write about a Broadway Opening Night we attended- The Book of Mormon… God’s Favourite Musical, as well as a visit to Rockefeller Centre.